Cycling the Rhine

Day One – Andermatt to Carrera

Ok, so leaving Andermatt, perhaps I should have listened to either the hotelier who commented “Are you ready for the mountain?” Or Google maps which advised that I put my bike on one of the Alpine trains to reach Oberalppass. Being me and being massively over confident I set off to climb the hill by pedal power. I’ve had some days of cumulative pretty large (ish) ascents before, so figured I could handle it.

Just over 600 meters is the difference in sea level between Andermatt and Oberalppass. Whilst it sounded tough, I figured if I took my time I could do it. What I didn’t figure on was that this was a gruelling, unrelenting climb. Every centimetre of those 600+ meters was covered by a road which went seemingly perpetually upwards.

When I’ve done climbs before, they have often been punctuated by level sections or even slight descents to give you a natural breather. This was very different. Even the tunnels wound their way upwards through hairpin bends. I stopped frequently. Sometimes just to take in the scenery, often because there was simply nothing left in the legs. My mind wanted to keep going but my legs said no. The benefit is that I grabbed a few snaps on the way up;

The hill on the left was probably about the half way point ……

Looking back down the valley at Andermatt.

The views all the way up were simply stunning. I have never been to a more beautiful place……as much as I now hate Oberalppass!

There wasn’t really much to do at the top, although there was a farmer’s market and some decidedly unauthentic looking yodellers. The views from the top were great though. Look away now of you’re bored of Swiss landscapes!

The way down was intense. Steep and sharp hair pin bends….a good workout for the brakes!

This is the kind of scene I had in mind for cycling all the way along the Rhine. Long, gentle downhill all the way. I couldn’t be more wrong for the Alpine section. Having reached my target to arrive in Ilanz I discovered there were no official campsites for another six miles so I decided to push on as there was plenty of daylight left.

Once again there were hills. Big windy hills. The campsite at Carrera was a further 300 meters above sea level from Ilanz.

After the Oberalppass in the morning, this was a real struggle. Some of the scenery though was incredible. I was more focussed on getting to the campsite than photography. I did manage to grab one of the view from my pitch for the night though;

When I arrived at the campsite I discovered this was one of the basic types with no food on site. Reception had a very limited set of wares for sale so I suficed wth a dinner of for bags of crisps, some kind of dried sausage meat and a couple of beers. After that, sleep was fast in arriving!

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